September 15, 2019

Washington Capitals Game 2 Recap: Capitals rally to win 5-4 in shootout, Carrick scores first NHL goal

Not all went as planned for the Washington Capitals during their home opener against the Calgary Flames Thursday night. After falling behind down 3-0 in the first period, and Jack Hillen leaving the game with a leg injury, it was clear the odds were not in the Capitals’  favor. But the Caps finally found their legs and rallied to earn a victory in a shootout, 5-4.

Jack Hillen was injured on a clean hit from Calgary’s Lance  Bouma in the first period, but it was unclear if the injury was to his knee or hip. He left the ice in visible pain, and it was announced that he would not return to the game, leaving the Caps to play with five defensemen for the remainder of the game.

Tom Wilson avenged the hit by trading punches with Bouma, but it didn’t do much to rally the rest of the team. The Flames were already up 1-0, and scored again several minutes later. Postgame, Adam Oates told reporters Hillen had been taken to the hospital, but would only divulge that it was a lower-body injury. Tough luck for Hillen, who was sidelined much of last season with a shoulder injury.

An Alex Ovechkin slashing penalty led to a4-on-4 situation where the Flames tallied again. Braden Holtby (three goals allowed on 11 shots) was pulled before the end of the first period and Michal Neuvirth  stepped in, stopping 27 of 28 shots, stellar in relief.  Holtby will start Saturday, per Adam Oates.

Midway through the second period, a different team began to emerge. Connor Carrick, who had a pretty rough night early (on ice for two goals against), skated out of the penalty box to a clean breakway off a smart Marcus Johansson pass, scoring his first career NHL goal in the process, providing the jumpstart the Capitals needed to chip away at Calgary’s lead.

“Momentum’s  a big part of the NHL hockey game,” said Carrick. “You hear a lot of coaches mention it throughout the league, so anything I can do to swing the momentum our way, I’ll be happy to do, and I was lucky to do it tonight.”

Carrick is in good company. The last Capital to score their first career NHL goal on opening night was Alex Ovechkin on Oct. 5. 2005.

If there was one thing that worked for the Capitals, it was the power play. The Capitals were 2-for-3 on the power play for the night. Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom both scored on the man advantage, and Backstrom’s tally tied the game in the late minutes of the third period.

Three Capitals had multi-point nights: Ovechkin (2g, 1a), Backstrom (1g, 2a) and Johansson (3a).

Neuvirth stopped both of Calgary’s shooters in the skills portion, and Grabovski and Ovechkin sunk their attempts for Washington giving the Capitals their first victory of the season.

Postgame, Oates spoke about the mindset he instilled in the players after the first period that allowed them to come back from a three-goal deficit.

“We talked about how we had 40 minutes to try to get it back. We talked about a couple things we did wrong in the first period and not to give them another one,” said Oates. “We wanted our D [Defense] to be more involved, but not do crazy pinches and give them a free goal – just stay focused and get it one at a time.”

About Katie Brown

Katie Brown is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Capitals. She resides in Arlington, VA, and developed a love for the sport of hockey as a youngster while watching her brothers play. Katie works at a nonprofit organization by day but the rest of her time is devoted to watching, writing, and talking about hockey and perfecting her mean one-timer. She is co-host of Girls Just Wanna Have Puck podcast. You can follow Katie on Twitter @katie_brown47.

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